Pittsburgh basks in glow of One Young World summit
By Rachel Weaver and Adam Smeltz
Published: Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, 11:59 p.m.
Pittsburgh's role as host of the third annual One Young World summit helped showcase the city to the world's future innovators, organizers say.
The international conference, which drew 1,300 young adults mostly in their 20s from more than 180 countries, wrapped up on Sunday in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown, with a series of speakers, including former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
“We don't know exactly how this will grow, but we've set something in motion,” said Steve Sokol, president of the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh. “We have (1,300) new friends in Pittsburgh in 180 countries. When they talk about their American experience, they'll be talking about Pittsburgh and telling people about the city.”
One Young World began three years ago as a project to bring together young professionals to discuss global issues and develop ways to address them. Topics include health, education, business and human rights, among others.
Annan, in a nearly hourlong appearance, called the gathering a chance to cross borders and address common objectives. It's critical “that we accept, in today's world, we have no choice” but to collaborate, he said.
The diplomatic leader, 74, said the collaboration must extend to the United Nations, where he served as secretary-general from 1997 to 2006. He warned that divisions on its Security Council inhibit peace-making efforts in Syria, now 19 months into a civil war.
“As long as they remain divided, they are weak,” Annan said of permanent Security Council members including the United States and China. “They cannot sustain the collective pressure ... to stop the killing.”
Between policy messages and political discussions, many who attended the four-day summit expressed a newfound appreciation of Pittsburgh and a desire to return.
Raseeka Rahumathulla, 26, a delegate from Canada, said she would consider moving to the city because of the growing number of successful companies in the region.
“There are more opportunities than I expected,” she said. “I like that it's a more progressive city.”
Wilson Xin Li, 27, of China said he would “absolutely” consider doing business in the city after visiting.
“It's different than what I expected,” he said. “I saw Pittsburgh as a steel town. It's better than I expected. It's very clean, very friendly.”
Avinash Singh, 38, a banker from South Africa whose company sent 12 delegates to the summit, said Pittsburgh's role as host “speaks volumes on its willingness to embrace global diversity and support young people.”
“I would be keen to return to the city,” Singh said. “There is no chance I would have ever come here if it hadn't been for this.”
VisitPittsburgh estimated the conference would pump $5 million into Pittsburgh's economy through hotels, meals, transportation and other expenses for attendees.
The delegates gave two standing ovations to Annan, the last major speaker on a list that included former President Bill Clinton, Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, Live Aid founder Bob Geldof and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.
Annan's speech ranged from personal advice to international policy, advocating for reform and stronger participation from more countries in the United Nations.
“I think if we can reform the U.N. and broaden that base, we'll make it more democratic and more representative,” Annan said. “And it will gain greater legitimacy.”
On Syria, Annan said the war could spread and inflame the region.
“Syria is not Libya. It will not implode,” he said. “Syria will explode and explode beyond its borders if we do not handle it well.”
Katie McSorley, head of advertising group Havas' Pittsburgh office, said the collaboration of businesses, nonprofits and others that resulted in the summit's success can be used a model for future Pittsburgh events.
“We did not want this to be just another conference that passed through town,” McSorley said. “It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
One Young World will meet in 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Shale oil, gas drilling boom wins favor with labor unions, thwarting environmentalists
- Landslides put Baldwin firefighters in financial peril
- Catholic learning sessions to start in Pittsburgh
- Change in kidney allocation rules should help patients
- Population expansion in Western Pennsylvania hinges on immigrants
- Newsmaker: James Lange
- Film tax credits bill would bump up state budget
- South Fayette mother wants case against bullied son to be dropped
- Moon school hiring under fire
- South Fayette parents express dissatisfaction with handling of bullying
- District attorney’s office takes paperwork from Wilkinsburg Middle School